Saturday, January 4, 2014

Daydreaming about Silk

There was a discussion a few weeks ago about secret obsessions. One of my male co-workers confessed he was hooked on the TV show 'Jersey Shore' (as I don't have TV, I had to be informed that this was quite the admission). I regularly send an email letter out to a large number of friends and family, and confessed a few weeks ago that I've not made the progress I ought to on several ongoing projects because of my sporadic addiction to 'Angry Birds', a computer game I find rather cathartic.

A long-time addiction of my is silk - specifically spinning silk, and then weaving silk when I get enough spun and can bear to commit it to a project. I have several batches of unspun silk in various forms (caps,  hankies, roving) dyed in various ways (I sometimes play at dye workshops) that I'm so in love with in their present form that I've been reluctant to actually spin … plus I know that when I sit down at the wheel with one of them, the world as we know it will fall away and I'll become completely absorbed.

I'm a fan of a site that provides daily endless entertainment and enlightenment. A video about making traditional kimono was posted a few days ago. I'm quite a fan of kimono; about 10 years ago, The Daughter and I took in an show at the Alberta Provincial Museum in Edmonton of a private kimono collection.

Of course, just like when I was a kid and got lost in encyclopedias (please tell me I'm not the only one - I'd start to look up something and one idea led to another and two hours later I was surrounded by discarded books with no idea where I started) I get lost following trails of ideas on the internet, especially youtube. (I've been avoiding Pinterest like the plague because of this tendency!)

This is all a long precursor to this linked video that I discovered, and that has captured my imagination.

I know that there are a few weavers and even a few spinners who read this on occasion, and I'm sure they've already seen this video. If so, it bears re-watching. If not, I'm hoping you'll also enjoy it.

Laura Fry - I remember when you had occasion to work with the Peace Country Spinners and Weavers Guild. Do you remember, or were you at, an Alberta Handspinners, Dyers and Weavers conference in Fairview?

Two things stand out in my memory from that event: Rita Buchanan (I took part in her master class after the conference and was totally in heaven) and a woman from the US, I'm thinking Pennsylvania, who taught a quilt design class but also gave a talk about indigo dyeing in Eastern Europe - and I'm having a total memory block on her name.

I found that listening to the talk and watching a slide show about indigo block dyeing was just as absorbing as this video about silk weaving. What is it about fibre and textile fabrication that so entrances me?

If you do go to the youtube link, you'll see suggested videos on the right hand side of the screen, and don't you know that I've watched them,  too! Traditional Li textile techniques, Scotland's last artisan Tartan mill, weaving with a backstrap loom in the Himalayas.

If you're hardcore like I am, you may have a copy of the book Women's Work: the First 20,000 Years. It's a big book that explores how archeological discoveries about textile arts reveal women's influential roles in society starting way back in early times.

There's another book I'm thinking about - The Invisible Sex: Uncovering the True Roles of Women in Prehistory.

Here's a review:
Shaped by cartoons and museum dioramas, our vision of Paleolithic times tends to feature fur-clad male hunters fearlessly attacking mammoths while timid women hover fearfully behind a boulder. In fact, recent research has shown that this vision bears little relation to reality.

The field of archaeology has changed dramatically in the past two decades, as women have challenged their male colleagues' exclusive focus on hard artifacts such as spear points rather than tougher to find evidence of women's work. J. M. Adovasio and Olga Soffer are two of the world's leading experts on perishable artifacts such as basketry, cordage, and weaving. In The Invisible Sex, the authors present an exciting new look at prehistory, arguing that women invented all kinds of critical materials, including the clothing necessary for life in colder climates, the ropes used to make rafts that enabled long-distance travel by water, and nets used for communal hunting. Even more important, women played a central role in the development of language and social life—in short, in our becoming human. In this eye-opening book, a new story about women in prehistory emerges with provocative implications for our assumptions about gender today.

See. I told you I wander and get lost.


  1. Brenda, that would be Sigrid Piroch, no doubt. :) No I haven't seen the video - yet - will try to remember when I've more time on my hands. :-/

    1. Yes! You're correct. She had the most fascinating presentation about indigo block printing ... and I remember her also as a pioneer in computer-designed quilt patterns - her little laptop was forever crashing at Fairview!


  2. The Art College that I attended (for my degree course) had 3 main departments; Painting and Sculpture (mine), Ceramics, and Textiles. I used to spend quite a lot of time in the Textiles dep't (probably because it was almost all female), and was fascinated by the loom work etc. Some of them worked in silk, and produced the most exquisite cloths. I can understand your addiction.